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Suspect in 1974 California church murder appears to kill self

Steve Crawford, 72, apparently killed himself as authorities knocked on his door to serve a search warrant for the murder of 19-year-old Arlis Perry.
Image: Steve Crawford, Arlis Perry
Steve Crawford and Arlis PerrySanta Clara County Sheriff's Office
/ Source: The Associated Press

SAN JOSE, Calif. — A man linked by DNA to a 1974 ritualistic church killing on the Stanford University campus apparently killed himself Thursday after detectives knocked on his door to serve a search warrant, authorities said.

Steve Crawford, 72, died in his apartment, authorities said.

Crawford was a security guard who claimed to have found the body of 19-year-old Arlis Perry inside the Stanford Memorial Church, a chapel on the university campus, in October 1974. Perry had fought with her new husband and had come to the church at night to pray, KPIX-TV reported.

Perry was found with an icepick in the back of her head and was naked below the waist. She had been molested with a 3-foot altar candle and another candle had been placed between her breasts, investigators reported.

"Crawford had been a person of interest since the beginning of the investigation," Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith said. "Our detectives continued to piece together additional information to this tragic puzzle and we were able recently to link Crawford's DNA to the crime scene."

Police and sheriff's deputies went to Crawford's apartment Thursday morning to serve a search warrant.

Deputies talked to the resident through the closed front door but when they entered the apartment, they saw a man with a handgun and immediately backed away, a San Jose Police Department statement said.

"A short time later a gunshot was heard," the statement said.

When deputies re-entered the apartment they found the man dead, police said.